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Archive for Sweets

::fall favorites:: Quinoa Pumpkin Cookies

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I’m trying not to bake as much as I did in the past year. I’m nearly back to pre-baby weight, and a batch of cookies a day is not going to help that. But when you have a craving for something sweet…you just do. Trying to avoid just making a batch of chocolate cup cookies, I decided I could healthy up these cookies a bit by using the Butternut Squash on my counter. Then I decided I wanted more instant satisfaction, so I used a can of pumpkin in the pantry. I’m sure fresh would turn out even better. Adding to the attempted healthiness, I ground up some quinoa in my coffee grinder (which has yet to be used for coffee), and replaced almost half of the flour I would need.

These were amazing. So amazing that I couldn’t take any pictures. I grabbed a photo of the last 4 or 5 before gobbling them up. Oh…the recipe made 5 dozen…and no..I did not share. They bake to the consistency of cupcakes. They were so moist that I couldn’t put them in a container. You know how an uniced cupcake gets when you trap it in a container? Yeah, like that.

What You Need
Step One
1 stick of butter (softened)
2 eggs
Step Two
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
15oz can pumpkin puree or ~1.5 cups pureed  cooked pumpkin
Step Three
1 cup quinoa flour (put one cup of quinoa in a coffee grinder)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
Optional
1 cup chopped walnuts
12oz bag of chocolate chips

Start with taking out your step one ingredients and letting them come to room temp. Then sift together all step three ingredients and set aside.

In a large bowl, whip butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and then pumpkin. Once all your wet ingredients are combined, slowly add the sifted together dry ingredients. Lastly, add in walnuts and chips.

Drop cookies only parchment lined sheets and bake at 375 for 9-11 minutes. Enjoy.

::kitschy kitchen:: Star Wars Sugar Cookies

starwars6068
We go to the mall almost every Wednesday. This week we’ll go today because of the holiday. PTB buys his comics on that day. I get a treat at Starbucks and a chance to browse Williams Sonoma. It’s silly, and really the only thing we manage to do consistently, but we always have fun with our mini-trip.

I really enjoy it when, not only do I manage to drag him into Williams Sonoma with me but, he buys me something! Well, I guess this doesn’t totally count as being exclusively for me. I have never ever managed to even stay awake through an entire Star Wars movie. So yeah. But the part that is for me was the cookie recipe and my first set of cookie cutters. Although, these are more of cookie presses I guess.

I’ve never been let down by the recipes that come with my Williams Sonoma toys and these cookies were no different. The cookie cutters were incredibly easy to use, so if you have a Star Wars fan buy them now before they are gone!! As long as you kept the dough chilled and didn’t let it start to melt while you were cutting, the dough doesn’t get stuck in even the tiniest of details. And since they are presses, it makes every bit of dough turn into the perfect cookie. Just shove the last bits into a mold, press, and perfect cookie!

What You Need
Step One

1 1/2 sticks of butter
1 egg
Step Two
1 cup sugar
Step Three
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Step Four
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt

Seriously. Take your butter and egg out ahead of time. Don’t fake room temp butter. Leaving it out ahead of time DOES make a difference!

In an electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed until creamy. Reduce the speed to medium and slowly add the sugar. Beating for approx. 2 minutes.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 1 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl once.

In a small bowl, sift together step four ingredients. Add half the mixture to the wet ingredients and beat on low until no longer dry. Add the remaining flour and continue on low until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough onto a clean work surface and divide in half. Shape each half into a disc and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days. This is my favorite part because I only make half the cookies at a time. That way, two days later, we have a fresh batch of cookies with very little work!

Once you are ready to make the cookies preheat the oven to 350F and let the dough rest for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to about 1/4″ thick.

Don’t be afraid to push on the cutters! They will only go so far. For me, the dough would lift up with the cookie cutter and then I would just drop it onto the parchment lined cookies sheet.

Space the cookies on the sheet about 1″ apart. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.

Let cool on the sheets on racks for 5 minutes and then transfer the cookies to the rack cool completely.

Enjoy your buttery sugary goodness!

You can make royal icing to decorate. Or you can buy the prefect colors from Williams Sonoma for decorating. I think the advantage to the press is not having to decorate them. And really, they don’t need any extra sugar. They are perfect on their own. But then again…I have never been one for icing.

::sweet treat:: Cherry Almond Cupcakes

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Ahhh!  It is almost the holiday weekend! Just a little while longer! I am completely un-excited about this weekend except the idea of spending a few uninterrupted days with PTB. I apparently have a cold! Who gets a cold in the Summer? It started with some sneezing Monday, and now has gotten progressively worse to the point that today I am full-on sick. It has killed my cooking-mojo since I am dizzy when I am standing up. But I realized that I had perfect posts to share for the holiday weekend, so I am here writing this up. It is the least I can do 🙂

I know everyone else is still going to have a great weekend, so I thought some ideas for picnics would be good. I was thinking about all the “patriotic” posts that have been everywhere this week. I was thinking how cheesy food is kind of obnoxious sometimes. And by cheesy I mean red cupcakes with bright blue icing and white candy stars on the icing. We are still part of the no kids group. I don’t need bright blue icing to enjoy a cupcake. I really don’t even need it to involve red, white and blue to eat it at a picnic for a national holiday. There will be flags hanging. I don’t need to eat one too.

But cherries. Cherries are one of those things that scream summer to me. And they are red. So patriotic! So this is why I thought, if you wanted to take a patriotic dessert with you this weekend, these cupcakes would be perfect. Oh! And there isn’t any icing – so they will be fine sitting on a picnic table!

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. I hand-mixed the batter with a wooden spoon.

What You Need
Step One

2 cups blanched almonds, divided
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Step Two
1 stick of butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Step Three
3 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Step Four
~2 1/2 cups halved sweet cherries (~1 lb fresh)
Step Five
2 Tbsp brown sugar

In a small food processor, chop half the almonds to coarse chunks and set aside. Chop the second half coarsely and remove 1/4 cup setting aside separately from the first cup. Ad flour, baking powder, and salt to the food processor and grind to a flour consistency. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, mixing in one at a time, and then stir in vanilla extract.

Slowly stir in almond-flour mixture.

Fold in the cherries and the 1/4 cup of chopped almonds.

Stir 2 Tbsp brown sugar into the remaining cup of almonds.

Divide batter between 18 cupcake papers (~2/3 full). Top each with almond-sugar mixture.

Bake for ~20-25 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes on cooling rack, then allow to cool completely out of muffin pan.

Yields: ~18 cupcakes

::sweet treat:: Lavender Cupcakes

lavender tree

A few weeks ago I finally had the chance to go into a little shop in Manayunk called Village Spices. I have always wanted to stop in, but it is in a spot that we only really pass walking by at night with an ice cream cone.  I never think about it when we are there during the day.  Usually a daytime trip to Manayunk means I have a mission. And usually that mission involves food. On the other end of Main Street. Can you see how excited I am about having finally stopped in?

I was like a kid in a candy store in this place. I finally found smoked paprika! An ingredient I could not find anywhere! And let me just tell you, TOTALLY different than paprika. But I am going off topic. In this tiny little shop, there was a shelf I was fascinated with. Any extract you could dream of. The lavender immediately caught my eye. I had wanted to make Lavender cupcakes since I bought the book Cupcake Heaven and learned lavender could be a flavor not just a scent. When the lavender was blooming outside, however, I completely didn’t think about it. Lavendar extract though!  Think of the possibilities! And the year round use!

These cupcakes would be perfect for a baby or bridal shower. Something very girly. I might add lavender extract to my petit fours next time I make them. The best part of these cupcakes is that the recipe is quite basic, but produces perfect results. I didn’t realize until I was putting everything together that it is almost identical to the base of the Cherry Almond Cupcakes (coming soon!).  So if you don’t like lavender, use vanilla. But if you haven’t tried lavender, you don’t know that you don’t like it 😉

What You Need
Step One

1 stick of butter (room temp)
1/2 cup sugar
Step Two
2 eggs (room temp)
1 Tbsp Lavender Extract
Step Three
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp salt
Step Four
2 Tbsp coconut milk (or regular milk)

Preheat  oven to 350F. In a large bowl mix sugar and butter with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time and then stir in lavender extract. Sift in all step three ingredients (dry ingredients) and stir until combined.  Lastly add the milk.

Spoon batter into cupcake holders. Should fill 12 about halfway. Bake for ~18 minutes, remove from pan and cool on rack.

Once cooled, get your icing ready to making them officially “lavendairy”.

Icing
1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 egg white
1 drop purple food gel

Mix the sugar and egg white until combined  Stir in desired color.  Use a spoon to spread on tops of cupcakes. Allow to set before serving.

Yields: 1 dozen cupcakes

::sweet treat:: Flourless Choco Mint Cake

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I am having a hard time believing it is already the month of June.  May was a whirlwind for me.  It absolutely flew by.  Given some recent changes around here, I thought I would feel like I had all the time in the world. Instead, I feel like I spent most of the month catching up with my sanity.  I thought I had lost it before May, but I had just given it a head start.  With crazy activities throughout the month, yesterday was the first day I truly felt like I was caught up and ready to work on more new projects.

So June begins!  Yesterday I spent the day with a friend recovering from some oral surgery.  We tested a soon to come recipe for Mango Avocoado Margaritas, she got to try the “Not Just Take Out” from Saxbys in Manayunk, we visited a great little specialty food shop and picked up some new goodies, we ordered from one of my favorite Indian restaurants, and we watched a chick flick.  What more could you want from a day?  We almost did some baking….but next time.  It was a great way to start the month, and now, I can finally catch up with other projects.  And so, the first recipe from Mother’s Day brunch!  I know, I know….

This year, as you may have read, my Mother’s Day Brunch was all about making ahead of time.  I used the opportunity to test some new ideas.  Some turned out perfectly, some still need some testing.  Luckily, my audience wasn’t too hard to please and it all seemed to go smoothly.  Flourless chocolate cake thanks to Martha Stewart was a perfect make ahead treat.  I had never made a flourless cake before, and I was shocked by hour easy it was.  It was incredibly rich, so next time I may try it as tiny individual cakes.  If I make it mint again next time, the little individual cakes would look so perfect garnished with a sprig of fresh mint!  If you have never had flourless chocolate cake before, it is like mushy-cakey fudge with a papery crust.  It is kind of perfect.

What I Used
Step One
9″ Springform Pan
275F oven
1 stick of butter (divided)
1 1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup mint chips

Step Two
6 large eggs, separated
Step Three
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Step Four
powdered sugar

Start with two large mixing bowls, and a small bowl.  In one, chocolate chips and 6 Tbsp of butter.  In the other, 6 large egg white.  Set aside the 6 yolks in the small bowl for use later.  Microwave the chips and butter in 30 second increments on medium heat, stirring each time, until fully melted.  Or melt over a pot of water, but the microwave saved a TON of time…

One the buttery chocolate cools, whisk in the yolks.  Whisk the egg white to soft peaks and then gradually add the sugar.

Whisk the sugar and and egg whites until stiff and glossy.  Pretty, huh?

Whisk 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate and then gently fold that mixture into the remaining whites.

You still have those other 2 Tbsp of butter right?  Use some/most of that to butter your pan.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake until the cake begines to pull away from the sides of the pan and the center is JUST set.  This should be about 45 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  Dust with powder sugar before serving.

Serves: 8 generously